A schoolgirl who defied the odds after being born totally deaf by learning to hear and speak as clearly as her peers has given a speech at the House of Commons.
Bea Cadman, 12, from Stamford, was diagnosed with profound bilateral sensori-neural hearing loss when just a baby. At the age of 16 months she had no understanding of sound and was unable to utter a single word.
But, thanks to a hi-tech hearing aid, a cochlear implant and language therapy delivered by national charity Auditory Verbal UK, Bea is today thriving in a mainstream secondary school with ambitious plans to train as a barrister, a midwife, or an interior designer.
In fact, she is such a shining example of what can be achieved with the right help, a supportive family and years of hard work that she was invited to speak at a special event on the Terrace Pavilion at the House of Commons last week.
The event, called Power of Speech, was organised by Auditory Verbal UK and hosted by Neil Carmichael MP. It was held to challenge common perceptions of what deaf children can achieve.
Bea’s mum Kate said: “When Bea was born we were told her hearing was so poor that probably the only thing she’d be able to hear would be a jet engine.
“But today she can hear virtually everything her friends can and speak with amazing diction. It has been a long journey but I’m so proud of everything she has achieved. Bea is living proof that there is always hope for children born with hearing difficulties.”
Bea, who is a Year 7 pupil at The King’s School, in Peterborough, has a sister, Harriet, 14, and a brother, Alfie, 7. She is the only one in her family to have experienced hearing problems.
Bea was one of nine youngsters chosen to take to the podium at the Power of Speech event after Auditory Verbal UK ran a competition asking youngsters who had graduated from its programme to submit a video of talking about a favourite hobby.
Bea’s informative and humorous three-minute long video about hockey - produced late one night with Harriet behind the camera - impressed the judges. After being told she had been selected, Bea chose to prepare and deliver a speech about YouTube which she spends a lot of her spare time watching.
Bea said: “I like watching people talk about their lives and the challenges they have overcome. YouTube gives a voice to all sorts of people and that’s why I wanted to give a speech about it.
“I’ve got a few different ideas for my future career. They are not easy to get into but I want to prove I can do it.”
Bea delivered her speech to an audience of around 100 people and Kate said she did a brilliant job, adding: “Not only did she get a prize for winning a place at the event, but she was also chosen as best speaker in her category, so we are very happy. It was a great day.”